Spring is on its way, and that means we’re edging our way out of the ‘hungry gap’, a time in the UK where there is limited variety and availability in terms of locally grown fruit and vegetables. So, now might be a good time, if you’ve been thinking about it, to investigate how best to get spring’s best offerings delivered to your door. We’ve done a bit of the leg work for you and drafted up a list of, in our opinion, some of the best veg box schemes delivering farm-fresh vegetables to your door.
One of the longest running veg box suppliers (they’ve been going since 1993) and over 72% of produce is British grown and is 100% organic. Riverford also have a 100% UK box, which means that customers will get a better sense of what is in season and homegrown. For a medium box that feeds 2-3 people with 8 varieties (including onions and potatoes), expect to pay £14.85. We like the variety on offer, that all fruit & veg is organic, that their veg boxes use 82% less packaging when compared to supermarkets. Much of their reduction in plastic waste has come from the decision to remove the plastic packaging from cucumbers (#freethecuc).
Whilst it is strictly not a vegetable delivery scheme, you can still buy your vegetable in bundles with Farmdrop, the ‘ethical grocer’. Since 2012, customers in London, Bristol and Bath have been able to shop with a range of producers, which is then consolidated into one delivery. Produce comes from Landridge Organic, an organic wholesaler specialised in operating a local policy, essentially, sourcing from the closest possible producer that meets the quality standards. They source from the likes of Chegworth Valley, Mole End Farm and John Hurd’s Organics. When ordering veg individually, you can choose to shop for packaging free, plastic-free, pesticide-free, organic and local vegetables, which we like. If you are after a vegetable bundle, expect to pay £10.75 for a medium box which feeds 2 people for a week. We love their focus on ethics and widening of the local/sustainability argument by recognising that local is not always possible, nor the most sustainable. And we love that they’ve got all covered, meaning you may never have to set food in a physical supermarket again.
We had to turn to Google to find out that Chegworth Valley is nestled in the Kent countryside near the little village of Harrietsham. As well as finding their produce at farmers markets and greengrocers all across London, you can also shop at either their Borough Market or Notting Hill outlets, but if you’re lazy, like us, you can get all of their delicious produce delivered to your door. Known for their fruit (no-sugar added) juices, Chegworth now also grow a variety of salad and vegetables, using pesticide-free farming methods and have done since 2000. A medium box with 8 varieties of vegetables will cost £12 and feeds 2-3 people for a week. You can also purchase separate fruit boxes or buy their mixed fruit and vegetables box for £20. Not only do we love their apples and pears, but also find their herbs, leafy greens and salad leaves to be among some of the best we’ve eaten. And before you check out, make sure to add a few bottles of juice to your shop, the apple and beetroot happens to be a favourite of ours.
As one of the newest to hit the scene, Oddbox are heralded as produce vigilanties, rescuing misshapen vegetables from farms where much of which would have either been ploughed back into fields or designated as animal feed, simply for being a bit wonky. The produce isn’t necessarily organic and it isn’t always easy to work out where the vegetables have come from, so if organic and/or local are priority, this may not be one for you. But if you love a carrot with legs, fancy your courgettes curvy or aren’t phased by a pepper with ‘ears’ then give Oddbox a go.
Set up in 1994, Farmaround is one of London’s first organic veg box schemes. It also boasts an ethical fashion label called Izzy Lane, using wool from rescue sheep and Hen Nation, who supply eggs from rescue hens. Each week you can check bag contents online and customise. A standard bag that feeds 2-4 includes carrots, potatoes and onions, plus six other vegetables for £14.25. There is also a luxury option with 12 varieties of vegetable for 2-4 people that costs £18.15, as well as a few other specialist bags, like the Mediterranean. We love that the vegetable availability changes seasonally and come in recyclable bags and that everything is plastic-free.
Local suppliers: If locally grown vegetable is what gets you cooking, then be sure to check your local areas for any local scheme. We’ve heard and witnessed good things from Growing Communities, Lee Greens, Local Greens, Field to Fork Organics Cooperative, as well as as OrganicLea. There’s also handy tool on the Soil Association that can help you find a scheme near you.